It is in the best interest of all contractual parties to attend a contract kick-off meeting where all project stakeholders are present. The agenda should include a page-by-page review of the contractual agreement, including the main contract document and all exhibits, to discuss all contractual obligations, performance expectations, escalation processes and initial project planning (e.g., schedule, reporting, deliverables, etc.). This is a time to confirm points of contact for the technical and administrative functions of both parties. Most often the contract administrator will coordinate this meeting, which should occur no later than 30 days after contract award. It is vital that the contract administrator be present, even if the meeting is hosted by the contract manager.
The contract administrator must study and become familiar with the contractual documents before the meeting in order to establish a schedule of activities for ensuring compliance by both parties to the contract—the supplier and the agency. Some agencies may have a minimal set of functions for the contract administrator to perform; however, contract compliance requirements may exceed those minimal functions. A successful contract is equally dependent on post-award administration as it is on a well-written statement of work or rigid performance standards. There may be special invoicing and payment clauses, certain insurance/bond requirements, federal grant requirements, extraordinary confidentiality or security issues or specific meeting and reporting requirements.
The activities of contract administration may be split between the project manager and the contract administrator or even with a contract manager. Regardless of how an agency delegates responsibilities of the contract administration function; there should be a written assignment of contract administration expectations and a named individual(s) for each function. The activities of each assignee will complete the “whole” contract administration file, so a check and balance should be required and the consolidation of administrative file data planned for at contract closeout. In other words, the left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing, how and from whom to obtain vital contract administration information and a quality check should occur to ensure there are no holes, missing activities or lost data. The delegation assignment of contract administration must be available to all contract stakeholders.